On the day when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tried to impress upon a group of influential NRIs that the Indian states needed to focus on “cooperative federalism” and not be tied down by “competitive federalism”, a number of Chief Ministers, who took part in the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, flaunted growth figures and concepts like “single windows, doors, desks and IT platform” to woo the investors.
“As a federal polity, India offers a unique opportunity to all the states to pursue their agenda for development and governance with active support from the Centre. India today demands greater impetus to ‘cooperative federalism’ than ‘competitive federalism’,” said the Home Minister while moderating a special session of the Chief Ministers, “Investment Opportunities in States”, on the final day of the PBD.
On the last day of the event, CMs of only nine states — Gujarat, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Kerala — attended the PBD. Oommen Chandy from Kerala was the lone Congress CM to attend the session.
“There are certain challenges facing the economy and the country, but we have to put up a collective fight against these odds,” Singh told the gathering of NRIs. However, talks of cooperation and equity among states vanished as soon as the chief ministers took over the podium.
Parkash Singh Badal, who was first to speak, narrated how Punjab had gone a step ahead of “single window system” and introduced the concept of “single person”, who is in-charge of clearing all bureaucratic hurdles. “We are number one in education and medical (sector). We are already the top most state in agriculture… According to an RBI report, Punjab is the third most attractive investment destination and according to a World Bank report, Ludhiana is number one city for the ease of doing business,” he said emphasising the state has surplus power supply.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who spoke after Badal, narrated how Madhya Pradesh has progressed from being a “bimaru” state to the one having 24X7 electricity, double-digit growth rate and a phenomenal agriculture growth of 24.99 per cent. “In the production of wheat, we had left Haryana behind last year… and this year we have gone ahead of Punjab,” he said adding that his government was now focussed on taking MP towards industralisation.
“Badal sahib (Punjab CM) was talking about single window, but we created a single door (for investments)… Come to MP, because I am there,” he told the elite gathering, while simultaneously telling them that he personally sits with the officers of all the departments every Monday to clear files.
Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu said: “It is impossible to compete with them with doors and windows, so I will use computers to compete.” Naidu who described his bifurcated state as a “sun-rise state” used a power-point presentation to put his views across to the NRIs.
The Andhra CM said he has created a “single desk” where investors can interact directly with the government “online”, without any physical interface. “AP will be the gateway of India; even for MP,” he said while looking at Shivraj.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis also tried to hard sell his state, saying, “Somebody has opened windows, doors and computers for you (NRIs). We have opened our hearts for you.” Marketing his state as a “changed Maharashtra” and a “land of opportunities”, Fadnavis said that he has used a “single IT platform” in cutting down bureaucratic red-tape.
The CMs of Gujarat, Jharkhand and Goa also marketed their respective states as the slogan “Make in India” gave way to “Make in Punjab”, “Make in Jharkhand” and others. Kerala CM Chandy talked about a variety of issues affecting the NRIs from his state.